The New Social Economy: All About Building Your Social Capital

The New Social Economy: All About Building Your Social Capital

Social capital is the new digital “currency.” It’s what you are trying to gain when you are posing, sharing, commenting, and working on your online social networking accounts. Accounts with higher amounts of followers will naturally have more social capital than accounts with lower followers. But social capital is not just about the number of followers….this week’s blog post is a Q&A to help figure out what social capital is and how to build your social capital.

How do you know if you have social capital? When someone with social capital asks a question online to their audience or launches a new product for sale, hundreds of people answer the question, or the product is sold out in hours….this is the power of social capital.

Lots of social capital equals influence. Your decisions and actions impact or influence others. Becoming an influencer and building your social capital can lead to jobs, sponsorships, sales, opportunities, collaborations, etc.

Are you sure this is a thing? This isn’t the future, this is how we are currently interacting and working through online relationships. It happens online in all formats you use. Which tools or social networks you use don’t matter, it’s how you interact and build relationships with your online community. Social capital happens everywhere online including Facebook, Blogger, Instagram, Twitter, email, and any other social network that will develop in the future.

What is the economy of social capital? Social capital begins with a non-monetary exchange between you and your audience. When people ask for your opinion or your expertise, you are in a position of giving. In a position of high social capital and high influence, you will be giving a lot.

On the contrary, when you ask people to act on your new website launch or want an opinion on your next creative project, you can poll or urge your audience into action, you are in a position of receiving.

This give and receive exchange can eventually lead to real money. When you are launching a new product and your community responds with purchasing this item, this will increase the money in your bank account. So while social capital doesn’t start off as actual currency, it can definitely bring in the money in the end.

A good model to follow is: give, give, give, receive.

Will paying for more advertisements help build my capital? Facebook ads and boosting, sponsored Instagrams, paid Tweets, and other costly SEO options don’t build social capital. Those are examples of advertising. It’s more about relationship building and engagement than trying to get your brand in front of more people’s faces & screens.

Can I track my social capital? Social capital isn’t something you can track and isn’t a rating system. It’s a social contract between people based on relationship building and exchange. You can’t quantify your social capital but there are ways you can work to grow it…

What can I do to build social capital? It takes time and work to build your social capital. You can build capital through building an authentic bond and trust with your followers and networks. You can do this by posting consistent and relevant topics, sharing a more vulnerable side of your life, sharing your personal story or anecdotes, providing honest & helpful feedback, recommending valuable brands or products, and being authentically you.

Where can I learn and read more about this? 

The Whuffie Factor written by Tara Hunt is a book that outlines 5 ways to build and grow better social capital. The Art School blog has taken these 5 principles and adapted them a bit.

  1. Stop broadcasting and start listening – Quit pushing out so much content out there and begin opening up. Listen and get feedback from your customers to build a connection to your followers, customers, and audience. It’s not always about you and what you do, it’s about them (the customer) too.
  2. Become a part of the community you serve – be a part of the online group, be a peer, and be involved. Online engagement and relationship building are key and you don’t need to always be in the expert seat.
  3. Create amazing experiences for your customers – deliver on your promises, you can’t execute a poor product, and keep your customers around long. Keep quality and real customer service in mind.
  4. Embrace the chaos -You can’t predict everything, so be open to opportunities that pop up. You never know what is just around the corner.
  5. Figure out your higher purpose – while making money and building a brand is a shared goal many creative entrepreneurs have, it’s important to ask yourself what is the bigger picture?

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